It is no longer enough to just be married to an Italian citizen: in order to be eligible, it is now necessary to also know the language.
According to Italian law, spouses of Italian citizens have the right to Italian citizenship, provided that they have a sufficient grasp of the Italian language. This was not always a prerequisite.
Italian citizenship can be obtained automatically at birth, reclaimed, or in special circumstances, obtained.
In order to be eligible for Italian citizenship by marriage (also known as Jure Matrimonii), there are a few requirements the applicant must fulfil, beyond being married to an Italian citizen.
The spouse of an Italian citizen may apply for citizenship by marriage after they have been married to their Italian spouse for three (3) years (if living outside of Italy). That time is halved if the applicant and the Italian spouse have minor children together, to 18 months and 1 year respectively. The period to wait in order to be eligible for Italian citizenship starts from the date of the marriage, and the marriage must be registered in the Municipality (comune) of the Italian spouse in order to begin the application process.
As of December 4th 2018, with the changes implemented under the Decreto di Sicurezza signed by the Minister of the Interior (colloquially known as the Salvini Decree), all applicants for citizenship by marriage must demonstrate a B1 fluency level in the Italian language. The level required is B1, as in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Currently the certification bodies in Italy, recognized as belonging to the unified certification system CLIQ (Italian Language Certification of Quality), are the following:
- the University for Foreigners of Siena;
- the University for Foreigners of Perugia;
- Roma Tre University;
- Italian Institute of Culture
- the Dante Alighieri Society.
All applications submitted after December 4th 2018 must bear the attestation of knowledge of the Italian language, or the application will automatically be rejected.
What documents are needed to apply for Italian citizenship by marriage?
- Marriage certificate: must be recorded in the civil status registers of an Italian municipality. Before submitting the application, it is always better to ask for an extract of the marriage certificate.
- Birth certificate: if there have been changes in surname (common practice in some countries for women), the birth certificate must contain the events that led to the changes. Alternatively, if the country of origin does not provide for marginal annotations on the birth certificate, the marriage certificate must be attached with the appropriate documentation.
- The birth certificate (l'estratto dell'atto di nascita) must be legalized and translated, with the exception of citizens born in the Republic of Slovenia and in the countries that have signed the Vienna Convention of 8 September 1976 (for which the extract of the birth certificate must be requested on an international model) and is therefore exempt from translation and legalization.
- Criminal record check/certificate of the country of origin and of any other country of residence in which the applicant has lived since the age of 14. Every certificate must be legalized and translated, unless it has been issued on a special multilingual standard form, which is exempt from legalization and translation (EU Regulation 2016/1191).
- Certificate of family status
- Certificate of Italian citizenship of the spouse.
- Italian language Certificate, as per the above-outlined details.
The Ministry of the Interior has the right to request additional documents.
The submission of the application for Italian citizenship by marriage, from 1 August 2015, must be done exclusively online.
Once citizenship has been obtained, the applicant must go to the Consulate General, within six months of being recognized, to take the oath of loyalty to the Italian Republic.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.